The badger culls supported by the government to tackle bovine TB have proved unsuccessful after shooters failed to kill the minimum number of badgers required for the cull to be considered ‘effective’. Animal rights campaigners are now calling for Defra to ‘kill the cull’.
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The six-week cull in Gloucestershire has failed to kill less than a third of the required badgers, according to the Guardian, with relief from animal rights groups, who have been opposed the measure since it was first proposed last year, as cruel and inhumane.
Concerns over the effectiveness of the cull to stop the spread of tuberculosis in cattle have also been raised by political opponents and scientists. It has been suggested that trapping and vaccination is a more useful way to deal with the issue.
Wendy Higgins, communications director for Humane Society International-UK, said, “We are of course mightily relieved that the shooters failed to kill the target number of badgers in Gloucestershire and didn’t exceed the minimum in Somerset, but every animal who died in the cull is an innocent life wasted for a pointless, unscientific and immoral policy.
“For the second year in a row the badger cull has been a miserable failure, not simply because it’s proved ineffective but because it remains scientifically discredited and ethically unsupportable. It’s time for Defra and the National Farmers Union to face facts and be honest with both farmers and the public – shooting badgers has been a costly and humiliating distraction that needs to end now. Vaccination, improved farm biosecurity and stricter cattle movement measures are the only way to tackle bovine TB. The public knows it, scientists know it, more and more farmers are coming to realise it. It’s time for the government to kill the cull.”
In Somerset, the cull reached the minimum target of 315 badger killed, but some have noted that in both cases, the figures suggested by Defra were completely “scientifically rubbish”.
A Defra spokeswoman, however, said, “We are pursuing a comprehensive strategy to deal with the disease, supported by leading vets, which includes cattle movement controls, vaccinating badgers in the edge area and culling badgers where TB is rife.
“The minimum numbers for this year’s culls have been set using the best available evidence gathered by local experts and signed-off by Defra’s chief scientist.”
Photo: hehaden via Flickr